The Golden State Warriors and the Anatomy of a 10-Game Win Streak
The Golden State Warriors started the season 5-0 before losing games to the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs on November 9th and 11th, respectively. Since that time, they haven't lost another, ripping off 10 wins in a row. Before they go for their 11th-straight tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans, let's take a moment to step back and enjoy just what they've been doing over that stretch.
With a record of 15-2 and the best defensive efficiency in the entire NBA (98.3 points allowed per 100 possessions), the Warriors rank high in the vast majority of stat categories as it is. Looking at how all 30 NBA teams have fared over their last 10 games played, however, sets the Warriors apart so much it's almost silly.
|Field Goal %||47.8||5th|
|Opp. Field Goal %||40.4%||1st|
|Opp. Three-Pointers Made||6.1||4th|
On the raw side of the box score, the Warriors are a top-10 team almost everywhere you look. Coach Steve Kerr is looking to be worth every penny of that five-year deal worth $25 million, considering he has his team in the top-5 in both points scored and points allowed. They're killing the boards and blocking shots on one end, and they have a ridiculous assist-to-turnover ratio and are raining down threes on the other. Yes, the competition hasn't exactly been fierce (only one of the 10 teams they've faced over this stretch is above .500, and that's the 9-8 Miami Heat), but they have beaten up on their opponents with reckless abandon - just as excellent teams are supposed to do.
In terms of efficiency over these ten games, it's hard to be any better than this:
|Effective Field Goal %||53.5%||4th|
The Warriors have stood outside the group of teams that the majority of pundits consider to be the league's true contenders for the last few years, but this year's trend of high efficiency levels on both ends of the floor puts them firmly in the conversation this time around. They are one of only four teams in the top-10 on the season in both offensive and defensive efficiency (along with the Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, and Toronto Raptors), and our algorithms currently have them with the second-best championship chances in the Association at 13.4% (trailing only the Toronto Raptors at 14.4%).
One of the main reasons for their success has been the strength of their starting lineup. Steve Kerr made a bold move this year, moving former All-Star and Golden State's third-highest-paid player, Andre Iguodala, to the bench in favor of still relatively unproven third-year forward, Harrison Barnes.
Draymond Green was also a new entry into the starting five, but that was basically a necessary move with former All-Star David Lee missing all but seven minutes of this season with a pretty bad hamstring injury. Green has surprised many by absolutely running away with the job, and it will be hard for Kerr to just jam Lee into the lineup upon his eventual return and mess up a good thing.
How good you ask? Well, Golden State's starting five has been the best lineup in the league this season (by net rating) and even more so over the team's last 10. Even when Iggy subs in for Barnes and the rest of the lineup stays in tact (their second most-used lineup), they don't skip a beat.
|Lineup||MIN||Off Rtg||Def Rtg||Net Rtg||eFG%|
|Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Green, Bogut||133||120.5||87.9||32.5||61.0%|
|Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Green Bogut||38||121.5||90.5||31.1||57.6%|
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson's stellar shooting, a revitalized Andrew Bogut's anchoring a stout defense, Barnes, Green, Iguodala's complementary roles, and other rotation players such as Marreese Speights and Shaun Livingston's playing their roles masterfully are all factors that have combined ridiculously well for the Dubs. It's starting to look like keeping this core together and passing on a Kevin Love deal was the right move all along. Our bad.
On an individual basis, Steph Curry has been a frontrunner for MVP, currently ranking third on our Player Power Rankings with a career-best nERD of 18.9 (which estimates how many wins above or below .500 a league-average team would be with him as one of its starters). Over this recent 10-game winning streak, Curry has put up averages of 22.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 1.0 steal per contest, while shooting 50.7% from the floor, 45.3% from long range, and 88.1% from the stripe. In fact, he's now got a shooting split of 49.5%/41.2%/92.6% on the season and has a realistic chance of joining the elusive 50/40/90 club while averaging 24-5-8. Ridiculous.
Klay has also been an excellent Robin to Curry's Batman, playing up to his new four-year, $70 million extension so far. He's averaging 20.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game this season and sits 21st on our rankings with a career-best nERD of 7.8. Meanwhile, Bogut's 91.3 individual defensive rating leads the entire NBA and Harrison and Dray are both averaging career highs across the board.
The Warriors are about to embark on a tough stretch of games, with six of their next seven opponents ranking in the top-11 of our NBA Team Power Rankings (New Orleans Pelicans x2, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and Memphis Grizzlies) and with five of those seven games coming on the road. How they fare over this stretch will determine just how real this blazing hot start has been and how much they deserve to be considered a true title contender in this league.
For now, it's hard to think of any one team that's been better.